Send to

Choose Destination
Biochem Pharmacol. 2013 Oct 1;86(7):853-61. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2013.07.029. Epub 2013 Aug 8.

Functional selectivity of G-protein-coupled receptors: from recombinant systems to native human cells.

Author information

Institute of Pharmacology, Medical School of Hannover, Carl-Neuberg-Str. 1, D-30625 Hannover, Germany. Electronic address:


In the mid 1990s, it was assumed that a two-state model, postulating an inactive (R) state and an active (R*) state provides the molecular basis for GPCR activation. However, it became clear that this model could not accommodate many experimental observations. Accordingly, the two-state model was superseded by a multi-state model according to which any given ligand stabilizes a unique receptor conformation with distinct capabilities of activating down-stream G-proteins and β-arrestin. Much of this research was conducted with the β2-adrenoceptor in recombinant systems. At the molecular level, there is now no doubt anymore that ligand-specific receptor conformations, also referred to as functional selectivity, exist. This concept holds great potential for drug discovery in terms of developing drugs with higher selectivity for specific cells and/or cell functions and fewer side effects. A major challenge is the analysis for functional selectivity in native cells. Here, I discuss our current knowledge on functional selectivity of three representative GPCRs, the β2-adrenoceptor and the histamine H2- and H4-receptors, in recombinant systems and native human cells. Studies with human neutrophils and eosinophils support the concept of functional selectivity. A major strategy for the analysis of functional selectivity in native cells is to generate complete concentration/response curves with a large set of structurally diverse ligands for multiple parameters. Next, correlations of potencies and efficacies are analyzed, and deviations of the correlations from linearity are indicative for functional selectivity. Additionally, pharmacological inhibitors are used to dissect cell functions from each other.


Beta-adrenergic receptors; Dichloroisoproterenol; Dimaprit; Dobutamine; Ephedrine; Epinephrine; Fenoterol; Functional selectivity; G-protein-coupled receptor; Histamine; Histamine receptors; Isoproterenol; Norepinephrine; Receptor models; Salbutamol

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center